What do you do in a desert where temperatures regularly reach 120 degrees? Why, you build the most environmentally sustainable city in the world, from scratch, overnight. Sounds monumental, it is. That is exactly what is happening right at this very moment in Abu Dhabi. The office of Sir Norman Foster has undertaken probably one of the most ambitious plans in the history of civilization and making it.
The city will house one hundred thousand people. The sidewalks will be elevated and a controlled form of transportation will pass below them. Every aspect of the project is designed for the experience of human habitation in a footprint that will generate less carbon offsetting than any other city its size on the planet.
This is from the man who has designed and built the largest single building on the planet, Beijing’s airport Terminal 3, (OK so 10 villages had to be wiped out for this to happen), and proved that sustainable architecture was a reality in 1975’s Willis Faber & Dumas building, long before anyone equated the word sustainable with architectural achievments.
It seems that Foster is an unstoppable force with projects so vast in scale and so deep in intrinsic value that he’s literally changing the face of the planet. If the experiment goes well, we should be on the lookout for better fossil free energy systems coming on line. It is this kind of forward thinking visioning that the human race must bring to market if we are to survive as a species on this planet. The only problem I can see is that it is the Arab world that is forging alliances with companies around the world to develop fossil free energy systems, even though they sit on the worlds largest oil reserves. They understand energy, they understand the limitations even of their own oil supplies and know that the future lies in alternative energy sources.
Syracuse, what are we doing to establish ourselves as forward thinking energy conscious society?